Our hills have been shivering in the onslaught of winter weather, with continued snow and frigid temperatures that came suddenly and wiped away every vestige of warm weather. Long, jagged icicles hang from the eaves of the house and snow covers the rooftops. It is a Christmas card scene that delights the youngsters and brings seasonal cheer to those anticipating Christmas.
I will admit that it is pleasant to sit in the warm house and watch the scene from a window. Cardinals, Blue Jays, wrens and sparrows flock to the bird feeder and make a colorful picture against the snow. Fluffy snowflakes drifting through the air brings back memories of long ago winters and holidays.
My mind wanders back in the past to one of the Christmas joys of our childhood. It was during WW II when Daddy worked at Carbide, and we got to attend the Carbide Christmas party. It was a spectacular production, a combined grand circus and Christmas extravaganza that utterly thrilled our youthful hearts.
The trip to the BIG city of Charleston was an event in itself. Coming from the rural holler of Clay County, the sights and sounds of city life were exciting to our wondering eyes. I remember fearing that we’d lose one of the kids, and would flutter about like a mother hen at every street crossing trying to herd them together.
The Municipal Auditorium was another majestic sight. We took it all in—the wide stage, the heavy curtains (we were used to bed sheets pinned together for our stage productions) and the plush seats that were so comfortable. Of course we were wide-eyed when the program began.
I remember the funny clowns, the daring acrobats, the talented animal acts and tight rope walkers. One scene, however, is etched in my memory and I can picture it still. It was during the war when many families had sons and fathers overseas, and the Christmas season was especially sad for them.
The curtain opened with a GI lying in a pup tent, with his head and shoulders outside the opening. You could see that he was writing a letter, while blue lights shone on him. The Carbide Chorus was in the background, softly singing, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” The scene was so poignant that I am sure there were not many dry eyes in the audience.
After the party was over, as each person left, they were presented with a pound bag of hard candy and one of mixed nuts. We were a happy bunch on the way home, our minds filled with the marvelous sights we had beheld, and our tummies full of candy and nuts.
It is curious how a memory like that can be imprinted on the mind, and is still clear after 65 or more years. It is a blessing how the Lord permits us to retain the good memories, and lets the bad ones fade from our minds. If we try to hold on to the hurtful things of the past, we will grow into an embittered and unhappy person.
Mary Grose O’Brien of Ovapa gave me a poem that was found in her grandmother’s belongings after she had passed away, and while it is not seasonal, it is very good. I want to share it with you.
THE BLACK SHEEP
In a little country village, not so far away,
There lived a rich old merchant man
Whose hair was turning gray.
He had three sons: three only ones, both Jack and Tom were sly
While Ned was rough and rowdy, he’d never tell a lie.
The older boys tried to ruin Ned within the old man’s eyes
The poison soon began its work, and Ned was much despised.
One night his father said, “Begone! You’re heartless to the core;”
These were the words the Black Sheep said, while standing in the door,
“Don’t be angry with me Dad; don’t drive me from your door
I know I’ve been rowdy once, but I won’t be any more.
Give to me another chance, and put me to the test
You’ll find the Black Sheep loves his Dad, far better than the rest.”
Year by year sped by, the father soon grew old
He called to him both Jack and Tom, and gave them all his gold.
He said, “All I want is a little room and place by your fireside”
One night upon returning, he brought with him a bride.
The wife began to hate the father, more and more each day
One night he heard the three declare, “The old fool’s in the way.
“We’ll send him to the poorhouse, which is very near,”
And like a flash the Black Sheep’s words came ringing in his ear.
A wagon rolls up to the door, it is the poorhouse man.
The boys pointed to their Dad and said, “There is your man.”
Just then a manly form appeared; came rushing through the crowd
“Stop this, you brutes,” the Black Sheep cried,” It will not be allowed.
“You’ve taken the old man’s property and all that he could save
You even sold the little lot containing Mother’s grave
“I am his son, but not your kin, from now ‘till judgment day.”
The father grasped the Black Sheep’s hand and they all heard him say,
“Don’t be angry with me, Son, I drove you from my door
“I know that I’ve been foolish once but I repented o’er and o’er
“I should have given you my gold for you have stood test
You’ve proven the Black Sheep loves his Dad far better than the rest.
As the snowflakes continue to fall, make a cup of hot tea, pull a chair close to the window, and watch Nature paint the world white. It is a good time to ponder upon God’s blessings. We truly are blessed—a warm home, plenty of food on the table, in the cellar and deep freezer. We have soft beds to sleep upon, while many people are cold, hungry and homeless.
We need to reach out a hand to help those who are less fortunate than we are. Remember—“there but for the grace of God, go I.”
Our neighbor, Bob Hanshaw, shared a good thought with me this week. He said the Lord impressed him with this, “Look for the good, and I (God) will take care of the bad.”
(It is not too late to order books for Christmas. I have “This Holler is my Home,” “Homesick for the Hills,” and “Laughter from the Hills.” They are $15.33 each, or three for $40. I can mail them out, autographed as you wish in time for Christmas. Write to Alyce Faye Bragg, 2556 Summers Fork Road, Ovapa, WV 25164 or e-mail email@example.com )